TWO WEEKS ago, the National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for our annual book prize, plus the winner of our lifetime achievement and reviewing awards. We’d like you to get to know these books and the writers who created them for they are the books which amazed, impressed, moved, and caused us to reconsider what we know. They include the diary of a late Russian journalist, killed for what she had to say about her country; a Polish poet of the most miraculous skill; a biographer trying to unseat one of the most magisterial works in the form ever written; a science journalist who wants us to imagine the world without us; a critic who wants to take us into the heart of John Coltrane’s sound; and a novelist prepared to show you the seedy glamour of Mumbai.
For the next thirty business days—plus two—this blog will run a series of posts about all of our finalists, written by the board members who judged and supported them. There will be short essays, posts, links and a few interviews. One of the things that differentiates this prize from others is that our judging panelists can—and often do—write about the books they’re deliberating about in the public sphere. This is the NBCC’s commitment—not just to picking the best books, but to having a discourse about them. We hope you get a chance to read these books, for in our opinion they are the best published in their respective fields in 2007. But we also hope you join in the discussion—here, or at the 20 NBCC panels which will be hosted in cities around the country in February (stay tuned for details).